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6 local theatres form an alliance to help performing arts community in the Coachella Valley

Alliance of Desert Theatres

Even as more of the economy reopens, live theatre fans and workers continue to feel the effects of the pandemic. News Channel 3's Caitlin Thropay tells us about a new theatre alliance in the valley. 

“When the whole world froze for all of us, it froze for the theatre companies,” David Cohan with the Alliance of Desert Theatres told News Channel 3.

Most local theatres were right in the middle of production when the pandemic hit. Now, actors are home, seats are empty and sets abandoned with only one ghost light illuminating the stage.

“We all are very fragile financially as part of the fine arts community,” Cohan said.

Six local theaters are a part of this new alliance. Those theatres include; Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre, Desert Ensemble Theatre Company, Desert Theatreworks, Dezart Performs, Green Room Theatre and Palm Canyon Theatre.

“We’re all just trying to find a way to reach out and hold each other’s hand through all of this which was not something we always had the time to do, we’re all in a friendly competition sometimes to be just a little bit better at offering great theatre and now, we’re finding a way to be just a little bit better at offering great support for one another,” Cohan said.

Artistic directors and senior management meet weekly via zoom.

“We’re talking with each other about how we can cut cost, who knows the best source for getting hand sanitizer, who knows the best source for masks, who knows the machinery we’ll need to spray the seats,” he said.

And how they can stay afloat while no tickets being sold.

“Most of the theatre companies we don’t survive on just ticket sales. That usually makes up a lot less than half of what we need to operate on so we need people to understand the relevance and give us financial support on an ongoing basis. We’re terrified that that’s going to stop and people are going to forget our relevance and that we’re more important than purely entertainment,” he said.

Cohan believes theatre is something we all need right now.

“It’s a reflection of how we think about the world, family, friends, relationships, politics, and really extraordinary things that are big themes and we need it,” he said.

Though no dates have been set, at the forefront of their conversations are how to reopen live performing venues safely.

“We’re going to be doing things differently," Cohan said. "Some people having paperless ticketing that they may have never done before. How do we have fewer seats in our theaters so we have social distancing but allow households to be together,” he added.

The alliance is also brainstorming how to keep actors safe while rehearsing and considering streaming performances instead or in addition to live performances.

“If this is something good that can come out of these really troubled times, we’re hoping to hold onto that,” he said.

If you’re a local theatre interested in joining the Alliance of Desert Theatres visit: https://aodt.org/

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Caitlin Thropay

Caitlin Thropay is the Weekend Morning Anchor and Lifestyle Reporter for KESQ News Channel 3, The Desert’s News Leader. Learn more about Caitlin here.

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